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Sear Bliss

The Hungarian symphonic black metal/folk metal outfit Sear Bliss has earned a reputation for being one of the more melodic bands in Eastern Europe's extreme metal scene. Sear Bliss can be intensely aggressive, and they have the familiar black metal elements (including sinister-sounding rasp vocals, blastbeats, and dark subject matter). But in contrast to vicious, unforgiving black metal bands like Norway's Gorgoroth and Sweden's Marduk, Sear Bliss have been a lot more accessible by mainstream metal standards and combined forcefulness with musicality, intricacy, and nuance. East European folk has influenced their writing, and so have old-school power metal artists such as Queensrÿche and Ronnie James Dio. Further, Sear Bliss have not been shy about using instruments that one ordinarily does not associate with black metal, including the trombone, the trumpet, the flute, and the violin.

Sear Bliss was formed in Szombathely, Hungary in 1993 by lead singer András Nagy (who has played bass, guitar, and keyboards with the band) and bassist Csaba Tóth, formerly of the Hungarian band Extreme Deformity; the rest of Sear Bliss' original lineup consisted of guitarist János Barbarics and drummer Norbert Keibinger, two ex-members of the Hungarian band Animosity. Like so many of Europe's extreme metal combos, Sear Bliss has been a revolving door over the years -- and it didn't take the band long to experience an abundance of lineup changes. Tóth left in 1994, and 1994's new arrivals included trumpeter Gergely Szücs, keyboardist Winter, former Extreme Deformity vocalist Csaba Csejtei (who joined Sear Bliss as a guitarist) and Csejtei's brother Zoltán Csejtei (who had been Extreme Deformity's guitarist but joined Sear Bliss as a vocalist). In 1995, Sear Bliss recorded their first demo, The Pagan Winter, and the lineup changes continued; Keibinger left, and newcomers included keyboardist/trumpeter Gergely Szücs and drummer Zoltán Csejtei; it was also in 1995 that Sear Bliss signed a deal with Mascot/Two Moons Records. Sear Bliss' first official full-length album, Phantoms, was recorded and released in 1996, and they started recording their next album, The Haunting, in 1997 -- a year that saw the departure of Winter and both of the Csejtei brothers and the arrival of drummer Zoltán Schönberger and guitarist Viktor Scheer. More lineup changes came in 1999, when Scheer, Szücs, and Barbarics took off and guitarist András Horváth P. arrived. Guitarist István Neubrandt and trombonist Zoltán Pál joined in 2000, and Horváth was fired in 2001, which was also the year in which Sear Bliss signed with the Red Stream label. Red Stream released Grand Destiny in 2001, followed by Forsaken Symphony in 2002 and Glory and Perdition in 2004. More lineup changes followed in the mid- to late 2000s, but being a revolving door didn't prevent Sear Bliss from continuing to deliver quality albums. In 2007, Sear Bliss recorded their excellent Candlelight release, The Arcane Odyssey, with a lineup consisting of Nagy on vocals, bass, and keyboards, Schönberger on drums, Pál on trombone, and Neubrandt and Péter Kovács on guitar. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi
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